2018 World Cup team preview: Poland

AP
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Getting to know Poland: Going into this tournament Poland are eighth in the FIFA rankings and many fancy them as darkhorses to go deep in Russia following their impressive displays at EURO 2016.

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Led by Robert Lewandowski’s goals (more on him further down), Poland lost to eventual EURO 2016 winners Portugal on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals and have a hardworking team built around their star striker. Playing in their first World Cup since 2006, Poland are ready to make the most of their opportunity and you can expect plenty of Polish fans to head across their eastern border towards Russia to cheer on their team. To learn more about Poland’s history, click here.

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What group are they in? Group H, as they were top seeds and placed in a ridiculously even group where all four teams could easily win the group. Japan are perhaps the underdogs but Colombia and Senegal will fancy their chances of finishing above Poland to reach the last 16.

Game schedule – Group H – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Tuesday, June 19: Poland v Senegal, Moscow (Spartak) 11am, ET
Sunday, June 24: Poland v Colombia, Kazan 2pm, ET
Thursday, June 28: Japan v Poland, Volgograd 10am, ET


Projected lineup (4-2-3-1) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

–— Szczesny —–

— Piszczek —— Pazdan — Rybus —- Jedrzejczyk — 

—- Krychowiak — Linetty —-

— Blaszczykowski — Zielinski — Grosicki —

–— Lewandowski —–


Star player: Robert Lewandowski – Bit of an easy one, this. The Bayern Munich star is Poland’s all-time leading goalscorer (53 goals in 94 games) and led European World Cup qualifying with 16 goals as Poland won their group. Lewandowski, 29, is the talisman for Poland and gets plenty of chances from crosses and long balls down the channels which suit his game. The entire team is built to get the best out of the No.9 and with his agent suggesting he will be on the move from Bayern this summer, expect a fired up Lewandowski to take his game to a whole new level.


Manager: Adam Nawalka – A man with a vision who has delivered a steady, solid Polish outfit in recent years. Nawalka is a former Polish international who played at the 1978 World Cup where Poland finished fifth. Yes, his job has been helped due to having Lewandowski in his prime, but Nawalka’s tactics have allowed Poland to move up the ladder in European qualifying rather quickly and they could really have reached the final at EURO 2016 if they had beaten Portugal in the quarters. Nawalka has been in charge since 2013 and after five years at the helm he will see this summer as the pinnacle of his work with Poland so far.


Secret weapon: Arkadiusz Milik – The Napoli forward was ruled out for the first half of the season after another serious knee injury but his form was decent after his return as he scored six goals in 17 appearances in all competitions for the Serie A side. Milik and Lewandowski may not play together all of the time but if Poland need a goal, having the powerful duo up top together will certainly ruffle a few feathers this summer.


Prediction: Poland are very capable of reaching at least the quarterfinals with the draw they have been handed but that would mean getting past either Belgium or England in the last 16. If Lewandowski is firing on all cylinders, they could shock everyone and reach the semifinals. That said, reaching the last eight for a second-straight major tournament would be deemed a huge success.